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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

You ever heard the old song “Anything You Can Do”, written in 1946? I’m sure you know it or have heard snippets of it…

Here… have a listen:


The song is from the 1946 musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, and should you have deigned not to have a listen to the oldie but goodie, I'll tell you that it’s a song with a single male singer and a single female singer, who are basically having an argument about who’s the best.

The best what?  Ahhh, there’s the rub.    

As most people are aware, North Korea is being a real dick right now, testing its long-range missile program every few days or so by launching a missile, causing it to fly OVER Japan… to land in the ocean

What’s the big whoop?

Well, it not only flies OVER Japan—without approval… but what if the missile fails during the flight?

It’s called a missile test… sometimes it passes, sometimes it fails. So… whenever North Korea brazenly fires a missile over Japanese lands, Japan blasts out warning sirens for its populace to take shelter, in case it fails and plummets to the ground.

Why does North Korea do this? Is it angry at Japan?

Well, d’uh… yes… it is angry at Japan. Mainly because it’s not North Korea and a not a socialist state like it is, and therefore it is weak and beneath contempt.

Then there’s the fact that Japan is an ally to the United States of America. Say what you will about President Trump, he might be considered by some within his own country as a bully, and as such he sure hates it when others then he’s weak.

It’s actually nothing personal against president Trump. North Korea enjoys testing the mettle of each new president… seeing what it can get away with… what sort of response North Korea receives… its high-stakes politicking, and Japan is caught in the middle.

And yes, it is also North Korea showing the world not to fug with it, because it is developing nuclear-delivery missiles that can hit targets as far away as the U.S., should it want or need to.

North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un is a cagey bugger. The thing to know first, is that he is smart.

It is my firm belief that he’s not stupid enough to fire a nuclear weapon at US territory Guam, as it has threatened to do.

It has no desire to actually drop a missile onto Japan—though if one should actually fail and land on Japan—oops… we didn’t mean to do that.

No.. the name of the game is intimidation.

Like all bullies, you have to continue to put it out there that you are a bad dude. You have to do bad stuff.

But, instead of smacking around some bespectacled little kid with asthma, North Korea is flexing its nuclear might.

Surely supreme leader Kim Jong-un realizes that if it goes to war against anyone, it’s own country will be vaporized with counter nuclear attacks… and woe to all those poor dumb countries unlucky enough to be near it when it happens… like China or South Korea… we know it as MAD… mutual assured destruction… and it is a nuclear detente that the world has been forced to live with since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb or two on Japan and poached as many of Nazi Germany’s top scientists as it could ahead of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic), now for better or worse know just as Russia.

So… North Korea is flexing its muscles.

What can the rest of the world do?

Countries are busting North Korean acquaintance China to try and keep them under control. They are  begging China to stop feeding supplies to North Korea. China says it will—as far as the requested embargoes go, but it will continue to trade with North Korea… mostly because it needs to for its own economic continuance. Besides… it wasn’t on the embargo list.

What do you do with a bully?

You stand up to them. You flex back and hope like hell the bully doesn’t decide to lash out. Most of the time… in real life… they say that a bully is just as afraid of you as you are afraid of them. I don’t know about that.

But if you are a big country, with lots of friends, with lots of weapons… you can create an imaginary line and flex away to show the bully that you are unafraid.

So… after North Korea performed its sixth nuclear underground test on September 3, 2017, the United Nations imposed sanctions against North Korea.

North Korea said, WTF, and in a show of “we’re not afraid” launched its latest missile over Hokkaido, Japan this past weekend… where the missile (non-nuclear) landed far off in the sea to the east of Japan. 

America said WTF… and so on September 18, 2017—and with permission—the U.S. military flew 10 total aircraft featuring advanced bombers and stealth jets over the Korean Peninsula and near Japan in drills with South Korean and Japanese warplanes….

It was done by South Korea and Japan just to remind North Korea that it has weapons and isn’t afraid to use them… and it has a big buddy in the U.S…. so don’t start none, if ya don’t want none.

Really… that’s what’s going on. Posturing. Whipping out the old penis to see who has the bigger one, and then peeing all over the place to see who can pee farthest and longest.

The Fly-by by the U.S., South Korea and Japan featured:
  • two Rockwell B-1B Lancer bombers from the U.S.;
  • four Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIF-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) fighters  from the U.S;
  • four McDonnell Douglas F-15K Slam Eagle fighter jets from South Korea.
Hmm… so what the heck did Japan send? Well… keep in mind that after WWII, Japan was not allowed to develop a military… which is one reason why Japan allows the U.S. to maintain military bases on its islands.

During the South Korean flyovers, the U.S. and South Korean planes practiced attacks by releasing live weapons at a firing range in South Korea.

The U.S. warplanes also conducted formation training with Japanese fighter jets (these aircraft are part of Japan’s Self Defense Forces… and is a fun way of saying it’s a non-aggressive military that’s not a military) over waters near the southern island of Kyushu.

This past weekend, the official North Korean state media quoted supreme leader Kim Jong-un as saying his country’s goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option” for the North.

What that means, is that North Korea wants to make sure it is strong enough to repel any possible attempts by the U.S. or other forces by having as much nuclear might as others do.

Take what you want from Kim Jong-un’s statement, but it sounds like he’s saying he just wants to be
left alone.

Well… I believe that he wants to unify Korea by annexing South Korea into the glorious totalitarian regime under one supreme leader Kim Jong-un… he just doesn’t want the U.S. to get involved in any war it starts, because otherwise he’ll attack the U.S.

The plan, as I see it:
  • North Korea attacks South Korea.
  • Anyone who tries to help South Korea, gets bombed by North Korea.
That’s the plan.

Of course, North Korea has not stated such grandiose plans officially, but I’d bet heavily that that’s the plan. 

The simplest option would be for South Korea to arm itself in a similar fashion… but do we need yet another country with nuclear capabilities? No… so it could ask ally U.S.A to bring back and park its nuclear weapons in the general vicinity in a visible act of hopeful deterrence towards North Korea.

What would happen then? North Korea would threaten back… telling the U.S. to gets is missiles away from the Korean (Cuban) Missile Crisis… only unlike the former Soviet Union which blinked and backed down in October of 1962, supreme leader Kim Jong-un wants everyone to believe he won’t blink.

We aren’t there yet… but that’s my best guess as to where we are heading.

Eventually,  even a bully that doesn’t want to fight might have to in order to try and save face. That’s where we’ll see if ego is more powerful than common sense.

Uh-oh.

How much do bomb shelters cost? And… what's the best way to kill a mutant? I better watch Beneath The Planet Of The Apes again. Man, that movie sucked.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Japanese Woman Now Oldest Person On Planet

It's kind of the suckiest title to own, because it means someone has to die ahead of you... but
Tajima Nabi (田島 ナビ, surname first) is now the oldest person on Earth at the age of 117 years of age after the recent passing of Jamaica's Violet Brown on September 15, 2017 (dying at the age of 117 years and 189 days).

Born August 4, 1900, in what was once Wan Village, but now part of Kikai Town in Kagoshima, Tijima is proof that the Japanese don't really move far from where they were born, now living in Kikai, Kagoshima-ken... the same place...

At 117-years of age (and I think 48 days), Tajima is now the oldest Japanese person ever (this means oldest officially recorded and documented person). Heck, she's the oldest Asian person ever... whatever that means.

The photo above is recent (relative to 117 years), with Tajima finding out in 2016 that she was now the second-oldest person on the planet Earth... or she's celebrating VJ Day (Victory over Japan Day)... or she's simply doing the Japanese penchant (since forever) for flashing the peace sign whenever anyone with a camera shows up.

Come one... I'm sure she has a sense of humor! I'm just having fun with her. I'm hoping to make it past half her age... and who knows.

Classic zen:
Which would you rather be? The dead butterfly or the live caterpillar.
The dead butterfly... it has achieved the next stage of metamorphosis... while the caterpillar may not make it to that level.

It doesn't mean you have to die... it just means that sometimes... when someone has reached a whole new level - like say reaching 100 years of age - well... they've made it... and despite all your own current potential, you may never get to their level... we could get hit by a bus on the way home tomorrow...

Tajima, bless her, has nine kids—seven sons and two daughters, 28 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren, and 35 great-great-grandchildren.

Wikipedia also says she has great-great-great grandkids, but does not provide a number, so I will discount at this time (or simply not include them).

I don't get this part... but maybe I do... it says that as of September 15, 2017, Tajima is the last surviving person born in the 19th century... so I guess the 20th century did not begin until January 1, 1901... which I guess is what Wikipedia is getting to.

It means that all other pretenders to Tajima's silver (hair) crown were born in 1901 and later.

And... since we all want to know what the secret to Tajima's success at achieving such an age could be due to... aside from genetics she says the key is sleeping well and eating delicious things... what... like Krispy Kreme glazed donuts?

No? Has she ever had one? Tajim may not know what delicious foods are, confusing them with the term "healthy."

Let's see... nope... she likes to eat ramen noodles and rice mackerel sushi. I'm not sure why the word "rice" needs to be in the phrase "rice mackerel sushi" as I suppose a sushi requires rice... and while I'm sure there's nothing wrong with mackerel, I prefer eel.

When she says ramen... I'm assuming she doesn't mean that cup of hot water ramen noodle stuff.

Tajima has been around for the birth of the aeroplane/airplane, WWI, WWII and the atomic age, Korea, Vietnam, the first flight to the moon, record players, radio, television, transistor radios, Walkmans, personal telephones, cell phones, smart phones, Dance Dance Revolution, Women getting the right to vote, the death of Beta and LaserDiscs, 8-Track, Cassettes, CDs, DVDs, pirating stuff, 100 years of Mitsubishi, rolling a barrel hoop for fun to mind-numbing brainless fun with video games.

What fun, Tajima-san! What fun! It doesn't matter if you ever experienced any or all of that crap and fun stuff... you were there... you have a unique story to tell... oh please let her have told her story!

Even a story about a common person is uncommon now. It's a unique perceptive into living in a time long... well... for Tajima, it's not lost...

The queen is dead! Long live the Queen.

Banzai, banzai, banzai!
Andrew Joseph

Monday, September 18, 2017

67,824 Centenarians In Japan

For the 47th year in a row, Japan sets a record for a growing number centenarians, now at 67,824 as of September 15, 2017.

I’m a little disappointed.

Mostly because I read the news and expected to be about centurions - as in Roman soldiers. My bad.

While I am of course happy to see such a large number of oldsters ambling about Japan, I’m sure the government of Japan is a bit nonplussed as the country continues to grow older, require more special services, while the younger population base continues to shrink where there is now a negative population increase IE, there are now fewer Japanese people in Japan than there were the previous year.

Anyhow… the centenarian figure from the year previous rose by a total of 2,132 people according to the Japan Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on a report issued on September 15, 2017.

Today, Monday, September 18, 2017, is the country’s Respect For The Aged Day.

Back in 1963, when the survey first began, there were only (?!) 153 centenarians in all of Japan.

By 1998 there were 10,000+ centenarians.

In 2007 there were 30,000+ centenarians for the first time ever… and, now… in just 10 relatively short  years, that centenarian population has more than doubled to its current official number of 67,824.

In the past year, 2,102 women joined the centenarian list, while only (?!) 88 men hit the big 1-0-0. Women, not surprisingly, make up approximately 88% of the total number of centenarians as of 2017.

I’m assuming the men simply just don’t want to live that long.

That’s a “husband” joke. I've used it here before.

If you are a new senior citizen, and would like to hit 100-years-of-age, there are a few places in Japan where the odds appear more in your favor.

  • 97.54 people out of 100,000 in Shimane-ken (Shimane Prefecture) make it to 100.
  • 92.11 people out of 100,000 in Tottori-ken (Tottori Prefecture) make it to 100.
  • 91.26 people out of 100,000 in Kochi-ken (Kochi Prefecture) make it to 100.
Worst odds in Japan for making it to 100 are:
  • Saitama-ken (Saitama Prefecture) at 32.09 people out of 100,000.
  • Aichi-ken (Aichi Prefecture) at 35.01 people out of 100,000.
  • Chiba-ken (Chiba Prefecture) at 37.83 people out of 100,000.
Somewhere having a bag of chips and a smoke,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Back in 1992, I purchased the telephone card celebrating the 100th birthday of twins Kin Narita (成田 きん) and Gin Kanie (蟹江 ぎん) who were born on August 1, 1892. They were the first known twins to have achieved the centenary mark. Gin, whose name means "Silver" is on the left. Kin's name means "Gold", so I would assume she was born first. You usually say Gold and Silver by reason of "value", but then there's that Christmas song about "silver and gold". Damn.   








Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cuddle Bunny

I like rabbits.

Not just water-color Bugs or Roger, but real rabbits. I even had one as a kid that I named Happy. Did I mean Hoppy, and my parents heard Happy? I no longer recall.

He was a nice, common, black rabbit… and after having him for a year—he escaped outside twice—we gave him away to a rabbit farm… and was immediately hopped upon by other rabbits, which was when we realized Happy was a she.

This past year, my front yard wild garden (a wild garden is when things grow, you don’t know what they are, but it looks like you cared, but you didn’t) has been home to a light brown bunny… the back yard to a larger black rabbit with a splotch of white.

It makes me happy (not a pun) when I see rabbits bounding around my house.

And that’s the whole point of rabbit cafes—places where people can go, spend a few yen, and cuddle with a tame rabbit—in Tokyo.

Yeah… Japan… if there is a possibility that you can pet it, there’s a cafe for it: cats, birds… specifically an owl cafe, hostess clubs… plenty of things for the people of Japan to pet.

And rabbits.

Hell… I would go.

Over at the www.allaboutjapan.com website, I noted their Top 5 Tokyo rabbit cafe list—implying that there are more than just five in Tokyo, and that there are probably more in the other megatropolis of Osaka, and in other cities across the country.

So… despite the link being from 2016, I’ll still provide it HERE.

I’ve never been a reptile or amphibian guy, but mammals, especially fairly normal mammals that can be considered pets—better.

I could see how the people of Japan—locked in that endless cycle of work-overtime-little sleep-work could use a break with a snuggle bunny.

Since there appears to be a decline in actual snuggle bunnies involving human beings (perhaps due to overwork, perhaps due to a feeling of “why bother?”), I can see why cafes of cats and birds and bunnies have become popular places to recharge one’s batteries.

Shave and a hare cut,
Andrew Joseph
PS: “Shave and a haircut” - is famously used in cartoons… I last saw it used to antagonize Roger Rabbit in the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” 
PPS: You ever wonder where “shave and a haircut - two bits” came from? Two bits implies 25 cents… a quarter, if you will.
Back in the olden days, a Spanish gold escudos and silver reales could be physically broken and divided into eight bits. Pieces o’ eight - as in pirates.
One quarter of eight bits are two bits. Shave and a hair cut - two bits. It’s just slang. Got it? Good. Never say I don’t teach you anything…   

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Social Class And Japanese Fashion - Sort Of

This past July 15, 2017 in a Japan Times on-line article, on the Growing paper clothes trend in rural Japan (see HERE), there was a quote from a 77-year-old Japanese woman named Sato Fumiko (surname first) that caught my attention:

“We could only have stripes,” she says, showing a scrap of fabric woven by her mother. “The people on the bottom couldn’t wear anything else.”

Say what?

Was Sato implying that one’s fashion was wholly-dependent on one’s social class?

Was this some weird Japanese Star Trek phenomenon—operations, engineering and security wear red shirts; blue shirts for the sciences and medical; and gold for command and helm…

I searched the internet looking for context to her quote—and found none.

That doesn’t mean she isn’t correct, of course…. just that the internet doesn’t have that information widely available.

This article is taking a brief look at Japanese fashion—specifically the kimono (着物)—and its role in class distinction.

I don’t know how successful I’m going to be considering I can’t find any information—but what the heck, eh?

Sato states that she grew up poor as a rural farmer’s daughter … not being called poor per se, but realizing she was poor by the fashion her class-conscious parents had her wear.

And it wasn’t because of whether or not she wore silk or cotton, the discriminating factor were the patterns decorating the clothing.

Plain or stripes for the farmers… the so-called peasant class back in the very old days…

No flowers or seasonal motifs allowed for the rural farming families. Whether it was the Emperor, the Shogun, or The Rock, they all wanted you to know your damn role:



It’s not as damning as you might think… pretty much every society has a way of determining one’s social standing by viewing their clothing.

Wearing Keds instead of Nike? Poor versus Rich, or nerd versus cool.

Chanel’s haute couture versus Walmart’s affordable George fashions.

In Japan… stripes on a kimono no longer denote one’s social status—in fact, stripes are looked upon as being pretty damn cool (I think so, anyhow)

See that photo at the very top? You can’t tell me this striped kimono isn’t a good-looking fashion statement.

However… what still exists, are how the colors of the kimono, its weave, the way it is worn, the size and stiffness of the obi (sash), and accoutrements—all tend to accentuate the social rank of the wearer.

The kimono, as we all know, is a traditional Japanese garment—though in Japan, it literally means ‘something you wear’, and is defined as “clothing”. Every type of clothing.

Eventually, the word ‘kimono’ came to denote the full-length, robe held together by an obi (sash - not a belt).

Men and women—using the old definition—wear a kimono… but this is 2017…

Ever since Japan opened its borders to international “guests” in the 1850s, by the 1870s European fashion began to creep into the Japanese DNA.

Kimono robes were no longer the norm… dresses and suits became de rigueur. But I would assume that was pretty much relegated to those working in the cities and larger towns.

Nowadays, men will wear a kimono at fancy tea ceremonies and at weddings, but women… women will wear a kimono as a fashion statement—usually important events—but sometimes just to say “look at me”—even though there is no way a woman would be able to tie herself into a kimono by her solitary self. It’s complex enough that four hands are better.

The kimono, by the way, even in the modern sense, refers to the full ensemble—up to 12 pieces for the woman, and five for the men—NOT including socks or wooden geta (下駄) shoes.


Generally manufactured with silk, there are four types of kimono:

1) Kurotosude: the most formal kimono for MARRIED women. At a wedding, the mother of the bride or groom will wear a black kurotosude kimono. “Kuro” in this term means “black”;

2) Furisode: the most formal kimono for UN-married women, it comes with longer sleeves. I saw these at the “coming-of-age” ceremonies when I stopped by a temple, once;

3) Tomesode: less formal kimono for MARRIED women, and while it can be worn to a wedding, it’s for close relatives of the bride or groom;
    
4) Hakama: less kimono-like in what we westerners picture, it is worn by men, and depending on the pattern—aha!!!!!—it ranges from the formal to less formal. While the hakama looks like western pants, it is in fact a divided skirt. Yes, for men.  

But wait… there’s more. There’s the whole summer kimono known as the yukata.

The yukata is an unlined, light kimono made of hemp, cotton, linen… and is decorated with a single different color of flower or Japanese non-magical sigil.

Worn by men, women, boys and girls—without noted class distinction—the yukata is seen worn at Japanese matsuri (festivals)—heck, if you go to a festival, someone will give you a yukata to wear… maybe even to keep. I was given one at the first ever Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken matsuri I ever attended—an o-bon festival (festival of the dead)… I lost it in the house fire a few years ago… but gave others back because it seemed the right thing to do.  

While I still can’t determine social class distinctions via what patterns adorned old-school Japanese clothing—except that plain of striped meant “peasant”, I do know that for the rest, there are specific kimono decoration patterns worn according to whatever season it is.
  • Winter (mid-November to mid February): It’s winter, so you wear a liner (awase) kimono. Colors are rich and bright—colors I prefer—and patterns will consist of bamboo (take), pine (matsu), and plum blossom (ume). You can wear the plum blossom pattern, but never when the plum tree is blossoming. The feeling is that you don’t want to take away from the natural beauty of the blooming plum and/or cherry tree (see next entry).
  • Spring (mid-February to mid-May): butterflies, cherry blossoms, plum blossoms… but it depends. For example, you can wear cherry or plum blossom patterns—but not when they are in bloom. Light and fresh colors form the base of the lined (a liner in the clothing) kimono.
  • Summer (mid-May to mid-August): Sexy time. Or as sexy as it gets when the woman remains wrapped up in fabric.  Colors are cool, while patterns include rain, flowing water, and god help you, snowflakes. It’s hot and humid in Japan, you should at least look cool… or as cool as you can in a formal kimono. Other patterns are summer flowers and autumn grasses. Remember darlings… it is better to look good, than to feel good. By the way, summer kimono is known as usamono, and can offer such breathable fabrics as lace, sha, ro, and more things I can’t pretend to know. I certainly know what lace is, having torn off certain articles of it from enough women in my urgency after having finally unwrapped a women from her kimono in the quick time of 30-minutes.  Kidding, of course. Women traditionally do not wear underwear under a kimono—regardless of the weather.   
       
  • Autumn (mid-August to mid-November): unlined through September, it is lined afterwards when the temperature gets cooler. Base colors are autumn colors of red, orange, yellow and even purple. Hemp (asanoha), red or yellow maple leaves are popular patterns on the kimono.
In all instances, the obi (sash) worn to tie the kimono together is of a contrasting color to the base color of the kimono, but could—but doesn’t have to—match the secondary color of the kimono.

Of course… no one is going to give a damn if you wear a winter kimono in the summer, but you will give a darn because the liner within the winter kimono is gonna make you sweat, even if I'm not standing near you.

Wearing a winter kimono in the summer or vice-versa is like drinking red wine with your fillet-o-fish. You aren’t supposed to. People will have righteous indignation, but will ultimately chalk it up to you either not giving a sh!t or being socially inept.

Really… who gives a crap.

And before you judge, I prefer a merlot, but the last time I drank wine was maybe seven years ago. There’s no rule against me and alcohol, I just no longer do much drinking of wine, beer or spirits.

Anyhow… should anyone have any information on what Ms. Sato was talking about in her interview in the Japan Times article—namely what patterns different social classes wore on their (old school) kimono—please let me know.

And, because I’m not American, I’ll let former U.S. vice-president Al Gore have the last word:

“We all know the leopard can’t change his stripes.”

No dessert for you if you thought leopards have stripes.

Banzai,
Andrew “Still earning his stripes” Joseph
PS: One kimono, two kimono - never kimonos. There's no visible "plural" in Japanese...

Friday, September 15, 2017

Headline Makes Things Seem Worse Than They Are


According to an article in the September 12, 2017 Asahi Shimbun on-line newspaper, after a en electrical power failure halted service on one monorail track, passengers were forced to transfer to another monorail by using a ladder.

Monorail glitch forces travelers to switch trains using a ladder.

That headline made me want to read the article.

The accompanying photo didn’t show passengers crawling over a ladder to get from the dead train to the saving train…

but imagine… having to crawl over a ladder… or having to step on a ladder making sure your feet don’t slide past the rungs.

What did they do about their luggage - after all, this was a monorail taking 40_ passengers from Tokyo to Haneda Airport.

The thing is… look at the still I took from an accompanying video… does that look like a ladder?

It’s looks like a solid metal bridge.

The passengers could carry their luggage across themselves… 

Granted… I’m sure some people were worried… even scared. The monorail was perched several meters above chilly waters…

See… a deceptive headline.



Here’s the story:

A six-car monorail operated by Tokyo Monorail Co. experienced a transformer glitch at Showajima Station  causing a power outage as it traveled from JR Hamamatsucho Station, traveling to Haneda Airport on September 12, 2017.
 
Another six-car monorail on the adjacent monorail track moved its front car alongside the stuck front car, opened the door, and placed a large, solid, metal walkway between the two monorail cars allowing passengers to move one at a time to the working monorail.

No injuries or illnesses were reported. I’m not sure if anyone missed a flight at Haneda Airport.

Passengers were taken to Showajima Station and then bused to the airport (and other destinations).

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Happy birthday N-chan.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Vandals Hit 1945 Okinawa Suicide Cave

I’m dying again.

After viewing the carnage left over after a vandal(s) ripped apart a memorial to a wartime mass suicide at an Okinawa cave, Buddhist monk Chibana Shoichi (surname first) exclaimed “(The cave) is not just a grave for people who have suffered a sense of guilt for years for surviving the tragedy. “It’s an act of killing the victims again and deriding the excruciating history of Okinawa.”

The infrequently visited cave’s vandalism was spotted on September 12, 2017 when Chibana of nearby Yomitan village in Okinawa-prefecture was leading foreign journalists to the spot.

On April 2, 1945, 83 local Yomitan villagers committed suicide rather than surrender to advancing U.S. forces—a sad fact borne out the Japanese insistence that death would be preferable to capture, telling its populace about made-up atrocities the Allied Forces would perpetrate upon them if alive.

The natural cave, known as Chibichiri, is located within a thick wooded area, and is where the suicide of all—or perhaps “mercy” killed by other Japanese locals—was a monument to their “sacrifice” to Japan.

Along with whatever articles they had with them when they died, their remains still exist in the cave.

Since then, junior and senior high school students who visited Chibichiri on peace programs have laid numerous origami paper cranes.

The vandalism includes shredding of the origami cranes, as well as smashing of the glass bottles and jars left behind by the villagers.

Recent visitors to the cave on September 5, 2017 to honor the dead during Japan’s Bon Matsuri (Festival) did not see anything amiss at that time.

In 1988, the site was vandalized when one year after it was installed as “the statue of peace connecting generations” near the cave’s entrance, the statue was destroyed by a right-wing politico.

In 1995 the statue was rebuilt and placed at the cave’s entrance, along with a sign containing a poem about the 1945 suicide.

During this most recent vandalism, the sign was placed atop the statue.
Buddhist monk Chibana Shoichi points out the jars and bottles smashed by vandals.
I hate seeing crap like this.

You can hate war. You can hate peace in the face of aggression. You can no give a flying fug.

But why destroy someone or something in the process of hate?

How does vandalizing a “memorial” to the dumb buggers of the town who were so indoctrinated by the Japanese government that they felt the need to kill themselves rather than surrender?

I wonder if this was done to send anyone a message? I don’t think so. 

I’ve always felt that vandalism is immaturity. It’s simple selfishness.

I know this goes both ways.

I’ve written about Japan being upset about a memorial to comfort women placed across the street from the Japanese embassy in South Korea.

Japan cries foul… wondering why the mistakes of 70-years ago should be brought up now.

The vandalism of the cave? That’s why. People care about what happened in the past.

As human beings, we have a tendency to honor the dead, and the living who have suffered.

To forget the past is the means to repeating them. It’s History 101.

I have no love affair for a memorial for a bunch of people who killed themselves. I think it’s tragic. I think it’s a stupid death. They didn’t need to die. But Japan made them die. They made themselves die.

I don’t have a problem with the villagers keeping the site as a place to honor the dead… because, as stupid as that mass suicide sounds to me in 2017, it was an acceptable solution in 1945 Japan. I try not to judge them too harshly… I blame the politics of pre- and WWII Japan.

But… what did these pour people of 1945 Yomitan Village do to the person or person who vandalized the site?

Nothing.

Even if we are talking about a son/daughter or grandson/granddaughter who lost someone in the cave in 1945, there’s no reason to vandalize. We’re talking about drug-addled or someone with a mental-health issue.

You can call it politics, if you want… but how does destroying a memorial to the dead and “not signing it” help your political cause? It doesn’t. My two reasons in the previous paragraph stand.

Personally, I think the souls of the dead in this case need to be repatriated into a local cemetery.

Honoring their sacrifice in the cave where they killed themselves may show honor… but it also highlights the stupidity and arrogance of 1945 Japan.

Why honor that at the cave?

Honor them at a cenotaph in front of the cave, but put their remains at the local cemetery… where their family’s remains are before them.

Maybe I’m wrong. What are your thoughts?

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph